The Girlfriend Experience (Chapter Sixteen)
(h/t The Citronelle Courier) Evie Bancroft, a recent graduate of Citronelle High School, has been found dead at The Manor Motor Lodge, officials say, after she came under intense local scrutiny for working as a prostitute in a Nevada brothel.
The 19-year-old’s death was ruled a suicide due to asphyxia by hanging by the Evergreen County Medical Examiner’s Office. Upon her autopsy, toxicology results revealed that she had marijuana, the anxiolytic Alprazolam (Xanax) and the antidepressant Sertraline (Zoloft) in her system at her time of death.
“Evie was the kindest person I ever knew and she meant the world to me,” Lindsay Anastacio, a lifelong friend of Bancroft, told The Citronelle Courier. “Please leave this as a private matter for her family as they need time to grieve.”
Bancroft’s body was found in the motel at approximately 8 p.m. December 18, Evergreen County deputy sheriff Mark Brown said, after Anastacio informed the department of a suicide letter, in an e-mail, Bancroft had written. At the time, Anastacio was on vacation in Hawaii. Brown stated there is no suspicion of any foul play.
Since her passing, friends and family members have come forward to memorialize Bancroft’s “gentle spirit” and “nuanced personality.”
“Evie was super funny and she had a big heart, but unfortunately she struggled with bipolar disorder and made some misguided decisions,” Clancy Tompkins, her high school sweetheart of three years, said. The couple broke up in August. “Still, I loved her. I wanted to marry her as she was the only girl I ever had eyes for. My heart goes out to her mom, her dad, and her younger brother.”
A funeral mass will be held at 11 a.m. Sunday at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Citronelle, according to her obituary. Bancroft will be buried at 1:00 p.m. at the Gate of Heaven Cemetery.
Representatives for Happy Ending Ranch, the Flagstone, Nevada brothel where Bancroft was employed, did not immediately respond to request for comment.
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Evelyn Klarissa Bancroft
December 2, 1999 – December 18, 2018
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“They’re trying to blame me for Evie’s death. Everyone in town is saying it’s my fault.” Sobs tore from Lindsay’s chest as her entire body trembled. Evie was her best friend and life was never going to be the same after this senseless tragedy. How could this happen? Why did it happen? “People I went to school with have taken to calling me a cheap slut, the town slut, and that I coerced Evie into prostitution and she’s dead now because of me! I … I can never come back here again.” Lindsay’s stomach was a jumbled twist of knots. “Ever.”
“It’s not your fault, honey,” Pamela said as she conversed with Lindsay over the telephone on Saturday evening. “Please, don’t ever believe for one instant this is your fault. I want you to get that thought out of your head.”
“I know it’s not my fault!” Still, Lindsay wished she could crawl out of her skin and hide. Maybe even put an end to all this misery the same way Evie did. “Her mom went off like a nuclear bomb after Clancy and Zack told her that Evie took a job at Happy Ending Ranch. She took it out on Evie, said some horrible things I know she regrets now, and it pushed Evie over the edge, over the brink. And it didn’t help that Zack posted on Facebook that Evie had taken up whoring just like, quote, her best friend and fellow skank, Lindsay Suckadickio did, end-quote.” Fuck Zack! I hate his fucking guts! Eat shit and die, asshole!
A sigh escaped from Pamela’s lips. “How did your folks handle the news that you once worked at the brothel? God, Lindsay … I haven’t spoken with you since before you quit so suddenly back in August. I was in Maryland rehabbing my back and didn’t even get to say goodbye. You just … vanished. I still don’t know why you quit. I’ve missed you so much.”
“I’ve missed you too.” Lindsay dropped to the floor and curled herself into the fetal position as she held the phone tight to her face and ear. Just hearing Pamela’s voice again was therapy in and of itself, like a warm, soothing hug, something Lindsay was in desperate need of right now. “My mom and dad weren’t happy, either, and this week was the first time I spoke with them since October. They’re still not happy. No fences have been mended.”
“You’re in Citronelle now? The funeral is tomorrow? Such terrible timing with Christmas right around the corner.”
“Yes. I … I’m never coming back here again. But I … I think I’ll pass … on going to the funeral. I … I just can’t.” Lindsay huffed out a breath. “I’m afraid of being swarmed there.” I’m so embarrassed! “This is a small, tight-knit community. Everybody knows everybody, and I’m public enemy number one. I’m the outcast. The local media is after me nonstop.”
“Oh, honey, you’re not an outcast.”
“Yes, I am! The high school stripped me of all my awards and took my name off the plaque, literally right off the wall, for being the Homecoming Queen the last two years. They … they don’t want to be associated with … my kind … anymore.” Lindsay pushed through the pain and humiliation and somehow found the will to continue speaking. “I walk down the street, and people, they … they point and stare like I’m sort of … thing. Oh, there goes the hoe! One guy even offered me twenty bucks if I’d suck him off. Can you believe that?” Lindsay’s heart stuttered, and she contended with this falling, spinning-down feeling. “I … I think we’re leaving in the morning before the funeral. We … I have to get out of here. I have to.”
“We? Who are you with? And where will you go? Do you have a place to stay? What are you doing for work, if anything? You know, if you need any help, I’m always here for you. I’d do anything to help you. I can wire you some money if you need it.”
Lindsay glanced across the hotel room at Sammy, who was preparing another dose of Valium, a strong sedative that helped reduce anxiety, for her. She’d been floating up to her eyeballs in relaxants since Tuesday evening. “No, I … I’ll be fine. I have a place to stay, someone to be with.”
Unfortunately, Lindsay and Sammy’s trip to Hawaii was cut short once word surfaced that Evie had committed suicide. They’d spent the last several days in Citronelle, a veritable nightmare for poor Lindsay, multiple interrogations with the sheriff’s department, having to fend off harassment from Evie’s family and former classmates, and dealing with backlash from her own family as well. This can’t be happening. Why is Evie gone? Lindsay stared off into the distance with glossy eyes. I wish I could’ve been here for her!
“Do you have a boyfriend? A girlfriend? Is that who you’re staying with?” Pamela had so many unanswered questions from what transpired over the summer and feared this telephone call may be her last opportunity to receive any sort of explanation. “And where do you live now?”
Lindsay regarded Sammy as he leaned down and gave her a cup of water and yet another Valium. “Seattle.” She popped the capsule and quickly swallowed.
“Seattle? Evie said you were living in Salt Lake City.”
“Umm, what?” Why did Evie say that? I told her not to! I can’t tell Pamela I hooked up with Mike. A recurring monger himself, Sammy didn’t want Pamela to know about their relationship because he had plans to return to Happy Ending Ranch after the new year and party with all the usual suspects again, Pamela being at the top of his list. “I don’t know why Evie told you I lived in Salt Lake. I’ve never even been there.” I don’t want Pamela to put two and two together. Sammy feared Colt would permanently ban him from the house if, as a customer, he knew he stole his top grossing girl away. “I met this great guy and have been living with him in Seattle since August.”
“Okay. …” The skepticism in Pamela’s tone caused Lindsay to gnaw on her bottom lip. “What’s his name? What’s he like? And where did you meet him?”
“I … in Las Vegas. And his name is Raymond.” Mike’s middle name; easy to remember. Pamela knew him as Sammy, but also knew his real name was Mike. So, I can’t use either. She knows of the massive all-nighter Mike and I had back at the house in July. “He’s older and has money. He … treats me well.” I never was a good liar. I bet Pamela sees right through my lies. “I’m … I’m happy.” Better change the subject. “How are you? How is your back? Mariko told me you’re returning to work?”
“Mariko? You’ve talked to Mariko?” The hurt in Pamela’s voice was palpable. “I’ve called you, left text messages, e-mails; I’ve been trying to get in contact with you for months. And you’ve talked to Mariko?”
“She sent me a recent e-mail and mentioned you were going back to work.” Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit! Another lie. I’ve been avoiding you because I felt awful for abandoning the house and leaving you in the dust like I did. But again, did Lindsay have any choice? Mike wanted me to drop everything and totally start over, build a new life with him, in Utah. That, and the fact he offered her $20,000 per week to do so. I love you, Pamela! I never wanted to leave you. Lindsay needed to distance herself from Pamela to keep those feelings at bay. It hurts me so much that I haven’t seen you in ages.
“I know I haven’t been the best friend. We’ve lost contact, and that’s my fault, and I’m sorry. One day, soon, you and I will sit down and have a good, long talk. I’ll tell you everything. Right now, though, isn’t the best time. Not with what I’m dealing with.” Yeah, right … another lie. There was zero chance of Lindsay telling Pamela she was Mike’s sugar baby and that she’d hooked up multiple times with Mariko, Scarlett, Riley, and Sahara since bailing on Happy Ending Ranch. Mike brings them to Salt Lake City and pays them well. Of the group, Mariko had emerged as Lindsay’s new favorite. I have more fun with her in bed than I ever did Pamela. That was because Mariko had a dominant side and enjoyed roughing Lindsay up. Mariko and Mike using me together is straight up fire.
“Okay, that’s fair. Take a deep breath, honey. I know it may be difficult to hear, but this mess will blow over. One day, things will be okay between you and your folks again. Everything will be fine, trust me. What happened to Evie, it happened, and it can never be reversed. That’s horrible and I’m so, so sorry. I know she was your best friend and you’re going to miss her. But you’ll patch things up with your parents, your three sisters, in time. I agree, though, that you need to get out of Citronelle. Like, immediately.”
“Evie thought the world of you,” Pamela said softly. “I only knew her for two weeks, but all she did at the house was talk about you and share stories from when you and her were growing up in Citronelle. I loved hearing about you … it was fascinating to me, made me remember all the fun times you and I had together, and how much you meant to me. And still mean to me. Evie always said you were the best friend any girl could ever have.”
Don’t cry. Please don’t cry again. Yet Lindsay’s eyes betrayed her and filled with new tears. “What about you and Colt?” Lindsay’s own voice cracked as tears slid down her cheeks. “Evie’s uncle was saying the family should go after the brothel and implicate it, implicate you and Colt, as a reason for her death.”
“What? Sue us? That so ain’t happenin’.” Suddenly, Pamela was on the defensive. “Colt spoke with the deputy from Citronelle twice this week about Evie and the time she spent working here but has since deferred all questions to our lawyer. What could we be sued for? Evie came to us, asked for a job, we offered her one and when she said she wanted to quit and go back home, there was no resistance from us. We did nothing wrong. Evie was on a plane to Palm Springs within four hours. I even paid for her ticket with my own money. If anyone wants to try and press charges against us, for anything, I say let them try. Our lawyer will have a field day with them.”
* * *
Fuck this backwater town and everyone in it. Sammy stomped through the small hotel room, back and forth along the wall, around the bed, and finally, into the bathroom where he propped his hands on the counter and stared at his reflection. His hair was unkempt, his face ragged and weary. Sammy had the notion he’d been dodging bullets left and right this week and couldn’t wait until he and Lindsay were out of this fleabag motel and Godforsaken town. Every minute I’m here, I’m putting myself more and more at risk of being caught. We need to get back home to Salt Lake pronto.
Somehow, he’d managed to stay in the shadows throughout this entire ordeal, with Lindsay front and center in the spotlight, and no one in Citronelle seemed to have any suspicions about the ongoing “transaction” they’d agreed to. I’d be in a heap of trouble if the police ever found out the truth about us.
What would Sammy do if he was charged with solicitation? I don’t even want to think about that. Sure, he’d hire the best lawyer money could buy and fight it, and probably win, but on the other hand, he’d lose his job as CEO of Gradiph Pharmaceuticals. They don’t take kindly to bad publicity, especially sex scandals, and wouldn’t think twice about terminating me. His career would be ruined, his reputation tarnished all over the Utah newspapers. I’d have to go into self-imposed exile.
But what if the lawyer failed and Sammy was forced to serve a prison sentence too? I’m not going to fucking jail. After all the millions of dollars he’d spent on prostitutes over the years, both legally and illegally, could the joy ride possibly end this way? I’d be a disgrace to my kids.
We need to get the hell out of this dump. Sammy wasn’t comfortable here and had a bad feeling. These people were beneath him. Citronelle was, hands down, the worst town he’d ever visited. All it would take is just one of these inbreds to accuse me of offering Lindsay money for sex and the shit would hit the fan. After all, she’d already been outed to her friends and family as a prostitute, the local media was roasting her, and it probably seemed strange to more than one onlooker that her “boyfriend” was old enough to be her grandfather.
Then again, maybe not.
It’s possible that no one in this wretched hellhole is smart enough to connect the dots.
Goddammit. I spent thirty thousand dollars on that vacation for Hawaii, too, and all we lasted there was a day and a half. That money went down the drain as they left nine days early and flew to Los Angeles, and then Palm Springs, to deal with this catastrophe. Evie ruined my plans, my holiday season. On Christmas Day, Sammy intended to propose to Lindsay along the surf in Hawaii. That’s so not happening now.
Godfuckingdammit! Blood raged chaotically through his veins. Why couldn’t the little cunt wait to kill herself until a more opportune time? Frustration bubbled at Sammy’s face and his eyes burned fanatically, irrationally. Why did it have to be now?
(End of Chapter Sixteen – to be continued)